Monday, September 23, 2013

Doubling down

I was thrilled to learn on Friday that one of my quilts has been accepted into Fiber Art VI, the biannual exhibit at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts in California.  It's cosponsored by the Surface Design Association and the wonderful fiber artist Joan Schulze was one of the jurors.  Only about 10 percent of the entries were chosen for the show, so it is quite an honor.

I don't want to bite the hand that just fed me such a treat, but I was unthrilled to notice that of the 54 pieces, 13 were multiples.  That is, five artists had two works chosen for the show, and one had three works.

As it happens, the same thing happened at Fiberart International, the big triannual show held in Pittsburgh this summer, and again at the smaller show of my local fiber art organization -- some people had two or three works accepted, while many others were turned away empty-handed.  I was a bit embarrassed to have two pieces in our local show, while other fine work was rejected.  At least my two pieces were somewhat different from one another, which made me feel a little less guilty.

Postage 7: Tower of Babble (detail)

War Zone 7: Intercepts (detail) 

This practice is particularly annoying if the multiples are almost the same, close variations on the same theme.  Yes, I know that when artists work in series there are always subtle differences between works that seem very similar, and it's often challenging and rewarding to look at them closely to compare and contrast.  But I think the place to do that is in a solo show, not in a group exhibit that purports to show a wide range of artists and works.

As a juror, I've sometimes chosen two pieces by the same person, but only if the field is thin and we really needed more pieces to fill the space.  I have a hard time imagining a situation where I would choose multiples when other worthy pieces were turned down.

I don't know what the jurors in any of these three shows were thinking when they accepted multiple pieces from several artists.  But as a viewer, I want to see as much variety as possible in a group/survey show and I feel a bit cheated when I see pretty much the same thing twice.  The next time I'm on a show organizing committee, I'm going to try to instruct the juror to accept one work per artist unless there's a really compelling reason for a multiple.


  1. First, congrats on getting accepted and second, I totally agree with you about not allowing the same person to have two or three pieces accepted. You said that Fiber Art V only took 10% of those entered. That leaves a lot to choose from to fill the show. I have been to shows where there are two by the same artist and they are so similar in exactly the same style and you know that someone was left out whose work was probably just as good.
    Thank you for speaking up about this. It is something that has always irked me, but I wasn't brave enough to protest in print.

  2. Congratulations! Love your text pieces. I've been wondering what to do with all of the shirt labels I've collected.

  3. I totally agree! That really turns me off when I see that in a show, and I have changed my mind about entering a show when I find out they do that. I would much rather see a variety of work.

  4. First - congratulations!

    And second, agreed. I would also rather see several artists than one multiple times. If the one artist were showing two very different styles, it my be one thing - a 'usual' work, and one that is exploring a new area perhaps, but two similar ones? That seems silly to do that. If they're going to have a 'limited show of our favorite artists' they should just say so.

  5. I am on the fence about your thoughts. I have seen two works by one artist in a show where the pieces compliment each other and are from what presume is a series. Sometimes it is really good to see this. And I understand that you think it's fine to show works from a series in a solo show, but again, I think that juror(s) are also looking at what the look and feel of the complete exhibition is. ARRRG. I have conflicting thoughts about juried shows in general. I can think of 2 works by a very good friend of yours and mine that were in an juried show back in 07 or was it 08 and they were quite similar but wow, the pieces were/are strong and bold and good. So, I say congratulations Kathy. Well deserved kudos and let the jurors do what they want to do. (Just make sure the jurors are ones you respect!).

  6. Two pieces from the same artist in a show.... jurors are picking the best pieces entered. Sometimes two of those pieces will be by the same artist, so do you pick a lesser piece instead? I'd hope not.
    Jurors don't make up the rules... the sponsoring organization does. Don't pick on the jurors!